Food for Your Skin

November 26, 2008 – 9:42 am

Food for Your Skin:
Exceptional Nutrition Tips for Your Largest Organ!

Skin-cancer prevention starts long before you arrive at the beach!

Eat to Heal and Protect
The body’s largest organ – the skin – is fast becoming the most vulnerable. According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), rates of the most deadly type of skin cancer, melanoma, have doubled in the last 30 years. The NCI estimates that 40 to 50 percent of Americans will develop one of the less lethal forms of the disease by the time they reach 65. Protecting yourself from overexposure to the sun is essential for staving off skin cancer in all its forms. But you can also set your body up to help prevent it.

First Stop: The Produce Aisle
The right diet appears to help stave off sun damage and slow the spread of cancer, says Andrew Weil. M.D., editor of Dr. Andrew Weil’s Self Healing. For instance, foods rich in antioxidants like lycopene (from tomatoes), beta-carotene (from carrots), and vitamin C (from many fruits) can reduce inflammation. Chronic inflammation has been linked to squamous cell carcinoma, a type of skin cancer.

In laboratory tests, resveratol, a powerful anti-inflammatory compound found in the skins of grapes and berries, appears to go a step further by keeping certain sun-related cancer cells from proliferating and pushing some cancer cells to self destruct. The easiest way to reap the benefits of these foods? “Eat lots of fruits and vegetables across the color spectrum,” says Weil.

Spice It Up

Many herbs and spices, including ginger, garlic, onion, turmeric, and rosemary, have strong anti-inflammatory properties. Research drafted in a recent issue of the medical journal Cancer showed that curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric and curry powder, blocks a key pathway needed for the development of melanoma. “In the laboratory, we’ve found that curcumin turns off the ‘cancer switch’ in 24 to 72 hours,” says Bharat Aggarwal, Ph.D., the study’s lead researcher and a professor at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. If you don’t eat turmeric, Aggarwal suggests supplementing with 200 mg of curcumin per day.

Think Green

Green tea, one of the world’s most widely consumed beverages, is also celebrated for its antioxidant effects. The active compounds, called polyphenols, can help prevent UV radiation-induced skin cancer in animals when ingested and may help prevent it in humans, according to a study drafted in the Journal of Nutrition last fall. Other research suggests similar benefits when green-tea extracts are applied topically.

5 Tips to Boost Your Skin’s Immune System

1. Berry Health

In season during Summer, strawberries are abundant with such antioxidants as flavonoids and vitamin C. For something a little out of the ordinary, try enhancing their bright, summery flavor by tossing them with a splash of balsamic vinegar and sugar. The combination is delicious with fresh whipped cream or on its own.

2. Honey Facial Mask

If you’re away from home and in need of some low-cost, low-maintenance pampering, try this tip from renowned herbalist Rosemary Gladstar. Pick up a few packets of honey from a coffee or tea shop. Before bed, apply a honey “mask” to dry skin, avoiding the eye area. Let it sit for about 10 minutes, and then rinse with warm water. Enjoy softer, moister skin immediately.

3. Spray Vitamins

Try the new oral nutrition sprays – a handy little pocket size spray you carry in your purse or pocket. Simply spray under your tongue 3 times a day for super fast, effective absorption. The “Ageless Skin” spray contains: Vit C, Biotin, Collagen, Essential Fatty Acids, Green Tea, DMAE, and Alpha – Lipoic Acid (all the newest buzz word nutrients for boosting skin health)

4. Quick – Accessible Food

Who knew one of the best ways to aid skin nutrition and your diet at the same time is to keep eating small, healthy meals throughout the day. The smartest thing I’ve done at my office is install a small fridge a few feet away from my desk. Now I nibble on super charged food (berries, yogurt, grapes, apples, tomatoes, carrots, grapefruit sections, etc) throughout the day. My energy level stays high, my thought process clearer. I’m never hungry and when I combined it with moderate exercise, to my delight, I dropped 5 lbs. in 5 days.

5. Eat Avocado

It contains protein, lots of fiber, several B vitamins, and a healthy dose of monounsaturated (”good”) fats. Avocado even beats out bananas for potassium content. An average California variety has 289 calories and 24 grams of fat – only 4 of those fat grams are saturated. Most are monounsaturated (17 grams), which lowers “bad” LDL cholesterol and raises “good” HDL levels. The remaining fat (3grams) is polyunsaturated. According to a study from The Ohio State University, fat in avocados may aid your body’s ability to absorb certain nutrients.

Per ounce, avocados contain more fiber than other fruit; a typical whole avocado has a whopping 14 grams, which even rivals the fiber in a serving of shredded wheat and bran cereals. They also provide more protein than most fruits, making them a great energy source.

When you consider all the nutrients housed in a single avocado, the calories no longer loom so large – especially if you give it a starring role on your plate, as you would a serving of meat or fish.

Try My Favorite Chilled Avocado Soup:

3 ripe avocados
2 cups of low-fat buttermilk
1/3 cup walnut halves
1/3 cup fresh dill sprigs plus more for garnish (optional)
1/3 cup diced red onion (half a small onion)
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon coarse salt

1. Halve and pit two avocados. With a spoon, scoop out flesh and transfer to a blender. Add buttermilk, walnuts, dill, red onion, vinegar, salt, and 1 cup water and puree until smooth.

2. Cover the blender and refrigerate until the soup is well chilled, at least one hour. Halve and pit remaining avocado. Cut into four sections lengthwise, and then cut crosswise into ½ inch chunks. Divide soup among four bowls and garnish each with diced avocado and dill. Serves 4

PER SERVING: 352 calories; 8 g protein

29 g fat; 22 carb; 11 g fiber

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